THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said around 200 Filipinos who were jailed for petty crimes in Saudi Arabia have been pardoned and repatriated to the Philippines since December last year.

“The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah made vigorous representations on behalf of our Filipinos in jail and endorsed and followed up on their appeals for clemency with Saudi authorities,” said Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban

Conejos Jr.

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The Filipinos were repatriated to the country when The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah issued a royal pardon for petty crime offenders last December 11, 2009.

The pardon was also made to celebrate the return of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz from medical treatment overseas.

Records from the DFA showed half of the 200 pardoned are females.

Eleven more pardoned Filipinos were originally scheduled for repatriation to Manila last Monday, but missed their midnight flight as their group, under escort by Saudi police authorities, arrived late at the airport. When they arrived, the plane which they were supposed to board had left.

The DFA said the responsibility for transporting individuals from jail to the airport belonged to the Saudi authorities and not Philippine embassy officials because there is no transfer of custody even at the airport.

The Philippine Embassy had earlier notified and coordinated with the DFA about their original repatriation, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and other concerned agencies were alerted about their arrival.

Conejos said the Embassy is currently arranging the re-booking for their repatriation at the next available flight.

“The DFA remains focused on looking after the welfare of our OFWs, and will continue to do so,” he added. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)